King Charles’ upcoming visit to Kenya, beginning on October 31st, is set to acknowledge not only the shared history between the UK and Kenya but also address more complex and contemporary issues. While the struggle for Kenya’s independence and historical connections remain significant, the visit will delve into pressing matters.
One such matter revolves around the tragic story of Lisoka Lesasuyan, a Kenyan goatherder who, as a teenager, lost both arms due to an unexploded bomb. This incident occurred in 2015 on a field used for joint military exercises involving the British army in Archer’s Post, located north of Nanyuki. Despite receiving compensation from the British Ministry of Defence in 2018, Lesasuyan requires lifelong medical care and prostheses.
It’s essential to recognize that Lesasuyan’s case is not isolated. In 2002, the British Ministry of Defence paid substantial sums to 233 individuals who suffered injuries from unexploded ordnance. Disputes between Nairobi and London persist regarding the origin of these munitions, as both nations’ armies conduct training in these areas.
Over the years, the presence of British forces in central Kenya has stirred controversy, with allegations of rape, murder, and civilian injuries resulting from unexploded ordnance. The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK), situated north of Nairobi, significantly bolsters Nanyuki’s economy. BATUK has injected millions into the local economy since 2016, and local businesses heavily rely on British army customers.
The British government acknowledges the gravity of these issues and collaborates with the Kenyan government to expedite justice for victims, including cases like that of Agnes Wanjiru, whose murder remains unsolved.
In 2012, the lifeless body of 21-year-old Wanjiru, mother of a two-year-old daughter, was discovered in a septic tank in Nanyuki.
She was last seen alive with a British soldier.
In October 2021, British newspaper The Sunday Times reported that a soldier had confessed to his comrades to killing Wanjiru, and showed them her body.
The report alleged that the murder was taken to military superiors, but no further action followed.
Despite these ongoing challenges, many residents in Nanyuki emphasize the economic significance of the British army’s presence, even as they call for justice and compensation.
While King Charles’ visit will include stops in Nairobi and Mombasa, Nanyuki, home to British troops, is notably absent from the itinerary. Recent demonstrations in the town underline the urgency of addressing these concerns.